Against the backdrop of ‘many dilapidated buildings’ the Confederation says that in England such spending needs to rise to at least £14.1 billion annually at the next three-year Spending Review – a £6.4 billion increase from the current budget of £7.7 billion, ‘so the health service can carry out essential maintenance and repairs to its estates, update old kit, and invest in cutting-edge technology, particularly in digital, technology, and AI.” It said: “Doing this will help make the NHS even more productive, and ensure that every healthcare pound is spent as effectively as possible.
The organisation also argues for longer-term funding cycles aligned between the Department of Health and Social Care, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and NHS England, ‘to allow local health and care system leaders in England to make the best possible use of their allocated funds, to plan for the long term, and to innovate’. The Confederation said: “These funding cycles need to reflect the long-term changes in demand facing the NHS from an ageing population, with more and more people living with multiple long-term conditions.”
Based on ‘extensive engagement with its networks’, the NHS Confederation says that –alongside increased capital spending – the four other ‘most critical factors’ its members have said will help secure the service’s future service in a general election year are:
- Putting the NHS on a more sustainable footing, ‘with no top-down structural reform’ in England for the next parliament, and a commitment to a short-term stabilisation plan during the first 12 months of a new parliament, ‘to help get performance in the English NHS back on track’.
- Committing to fund and deliver the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan for England, alongside an equivalent plan for social care.
- Providing more care closer to home – ‘by enabling local health systems to proportionately increase investment into primary care and community-based services, mental health, and social care’.
- Delivering a strategy for national health, ‘given that most policy that impacts people’s health is made outside the NHS’. As part of this, the Confederation says the Prime Minister should lead a cross-government ‘national mission’ for health improvement. This should ‘shift the focus from treating illness to promoting health and wellbeing’, aim to reduce inequalities, and tackle ‘the wider determinants of health’, supporting the public to be active partners in their own health.
Commenting on the report’s publication, NHS Confederation, CEO, Matthew Taylor (pictured), said:
“There is no shortage of analysis and advice about what the NHS needs. This is why we have worked with health leaders across our membership to identify the five most critical priorities for the next government that will set the NHS on a path to recovery and sustainability.
“Yes, this is about government investment – especially in capital and workforce – but it is also about the government resisting the temptation to waste time and energy on unnecessary reorganisation, working differently to improve the nations’ health, and about enabling our members to deliver on the long-delayed aspiration to move resources into prevention, primary, and community based care.”
NHS Confederation members says boosting capital investment is ‘one of the best ways the next government can support health leaders and their teams to increase capacity’. Matthew Taylor added: “Run-down and dilapidated buildings, and obsolete equipment, are some of the most obvious signs of underinvestment in the health service. From hospital buildings being held up with scaffolding, to mental health patients being treated in outdated buildings, the NHS is crying out for capital. Our members a lack of capital funding is not only hampering their efforts to modernise their estates and equipment,, but also jeopardises the vital work of driving down waiting lists, including the elective backlog.
“Without new capital investment, the NHS will be unable to maximise some of the fantastic medical breakthroughs in AI and digital technology to improve patient care, and we have seen the positive impact it can have on local communities – including through the expansion of Community Diagnostic Centres However, put simply, a lack of capital funding can leave patients at risk.”